Monday, 13 February 2012

How to Format a Book for POD without Errors

You have perfectly-worded your book, and if pictures are included, they are clear and pristine. However, after uploading your book file onto a POD platform such as Createspace, the system throws back error messages that leave you stumped. Here is a list of the most common self publishing peeves and how to cure them.

Formatting Peeves on Createspace

In order to self publish a book for print on demand you have to ensure the book file is free of printing or formatting issues. The following are the most common problems associated with self publishing a book and how to deal with them.

1 Your Fonts have Not Been Embedded Properly

You might have used exotic fonts and complex page formatting that may not convert as it should onto the POD platform, causing slight shifts between the appearance of your book on your PDF file and the print version. To prevent this, you must embed the fonts into your book file prior to saving it as a PDF. Createspace will do this for you, but I would prefer to do it prior to upload. Follow these steps on how to embed fonts in your book file.

1. Click on the office logo on the top left of your Microsoft screen.
2. Select ‘word options.’ This can be found at the bottom of the popup window.
3. Select ‘save’, which will bring up a new screen.
4. Click the box that displays ‘embed fonts in this file.’ Then save.

Once you have embedded the fonts into your book file, you must save it as a PDF prior to upload.

2 The Pictures in Your Book File are Low in DPI which May Look Pixilated in Print

The graininess of an image is denoted by how many dots there are per square inch (or DPI). CreateSpace and Lulu like your images to be at least 300DPI. Anything less will throw up this error message. To overcome this problem, you will need to save your pictures at a higher DPI. But first, make sure you have not inadvertently selected the wrong button when saving your book file as a PDF. You will have 2 options: ‘save for minimum size for online publishing,’ or ‘standard publishing (for printing)’. By selecting the ‘online’ option, you are reducing the book file size including the images, degrading the quality of the images.

Also, when saving your book file, make sure not to ‘compress’ the images as this will reduce the size of your images as well as the quality. If you do so inadvertently, undo the action or reinsert the image(s) from scratch.

How to Increase DPI of Pictures

Make sure the images you include in your book file are good quality first-off, which means high resolution and sharp focusing. You can find good quality images on the Net, such as Shutterstock, but I would prefer to produce my own images. If the DPI has been reduced due to cropping, you can increase the DPI again by the means of any standard image software such as PaintShop. I use Irfanview, a free image software download. Follow these steps to increase DPI of pictures.

1. With the image software opened, browse to the image that needs DPI resizing.
2. Click on ‘image’ or ‘image options.’
3. On the submenu, click on ‘resize’.
4. A separate resize/resample box will pop up.
5. Under ‘DPI’ change to 300.
6. Save the image.

If scanning the mage, set the DPI to 300.

3 Elements Extend into the Trim Area of your Book File

If your book file exhibits crucial elements that extend into the 0.125in of your outer margins, the error message will pop up that these elements may be trimmed off during the production of your book. To counter this, make sure each page is free of text and/or image within this area. This will mean shifting a few images away from the edges of your page or widening your margins a little.

If however, the effect is intentional, you will need to select ‘full bleed’ for the trim of your book. You will also have to adjust your page size to accommodate for the full bleed, which will mean adding 0.125” onto the top and bottom of your page size and 0.125in to the outer edge. So if your book is to be 8x10in, with full bleed, it will be 8.125inx10.25in. You will not need to add anything to the gutter edge of your page (the point at which your pages join at the spine) as this will not be trimmed. However, if your book is of a particular word-count, you will need to make the gutter margin a little wider.

More about calculating the margins of your book file for full bleed can be found on a separate article (a link can also be found at the foot of this page).

4 Error Messages on the Cover Design of your Book

Beware that the above also applies to your book cover design. Make sure the image featured is at least 300DPI and that there is a sufficient trim area between the live elements of your cover design (which might be text or image) and the outer edges of your book cover. Allow only inconsequential background to be on display within the outer 0.125” trim area. Uploading your cover design on CreateSpace will soon uncover issues.

5 Images Contains Transparency which will be Flattened Causing a Colour Shift

Some images in your book may contain transparent colours which, during processing, may not exhibit the subtle hues featured. Without addressing this issue, the print copy of your book will feature unbalanced hues, some garish, others subtle. In my case, reds and certain blues were oversaturated. The only way I could counter this problem was to tone down the brightness of the colours a little in Pictures by toggling the ‘saturation’ settings a little to the left. Don’t go too far or the picture will appear too monochromatic. Before tampering with the colour saturation, copy the image in a separate file and reserve it only for POD images.

Why Your Book File will be Rejected on a POD Platform

Other issues that may hamper the publishing process of your book are as follows:
  • The author name and book title inputted during the book setup stage do not match that which is entered for the book cover.
  • Book is less than 24 pages long.
  • The gutter setting is insufficiently wide for a book exceeding a certain page length. The thicker the book, the wider the gutter margin needs to be.
  • More than two blank pages in a row. Every page should contain live elements.
  • If you select ‘provide your own ISBN’, it must accurately match the name and book title registered through that ISBN agency. Print on demand companies will verify for accuracy.
  • Page headers that appears inconsistent in style throughout the book. Make sure the headers are consistent throughout.
Guide to Publishing Your Book on PDF

In order to self publish your book on POD, observe common issues that may hamper self publishing. A book that has not been saved as a single PDF file cannot be uploaded (although Createspace will convert it for you). Make sure fonts are embedded and that all images are at least 300DPI in size. Look out for live elements that encroach over the trim areas of your interior file (over 0.125”). And also ensure the details given during the setup stage of your book accurately reflect that which is on display on the book cover.

Self Publishing your Book on Print on Demand Platform

Designing your own book cover
Bleed or no bleed for POD?
Creating perfect images for print books
Formatting text with images for POD
Developing writing style for novels

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